20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
Dan Quinn has always dreamed of pop stardom. Residing in Croydon, London, Quinn started his musical journey less than a year ago, having released a string of pop singles, including “J+K” and “Garden.” With his music exploring the ups and downs of love and inspired by his own personal relationships, his nod to electronic pop can be heard through his lustrous and bold vocals. Influenced by pop princesses such as Carly Rae Jepson and Charli XCX, Quinn’s latest single “Never Let You Down” wants us all to shed the weights that hold us down and keep us from dancing.
I got to catch up with Dan for this edition of 20 Questions, where we talked all about his latest releases, which books and movies make him cry, the importance of queer visibility in media, his upcoming debut EP, and lots more.
What is your earliest memory of wanting to be a musician?
Not to be cliché, but I’ve literally always wanted to be a pop star. When I was super young I wanted to be a dancer, the only problem being that I cannot dance—thus, I must have turned my sights to more attainable goals. I remember being like three, dancing around wearing sunglasses with a toy electric guitar. I didn’t learn to play guitar until much later, but clearly we had the vision from day one.
What kind of artists did you grow up listening to?
My earliest listening memories come from my mother who used to listen a lot of R&B, like Ciara, Destiny’s Child, and Rihanna. I remember listening to “Pon de Replay” a lot. Then as I grew, what I listened to tended to be more poppy music, like S-Club, JoJo, and Lady Gaga.
Musically and stylistically, who are your biggest influences?
Hmm, that is a tricky one. I really cannot pinpoint specific musical influences. There are certainly people who I admire writing-wise, such as Marina (especially her early work), Lana Del Rey, and Taylor Swift. But I’m not sure how much they can be heard in my work. Sonically I’m at a point where each track I put out sounds quite different, as I’m still trying to figure out what I want to go for. I’m definitely inspired by Uffie and Lykke Li right now. I really enjoy that electronic, minimalist melancholic vibe they both have going on. I’d love to create a project with that sound.
How would you characterize your new single “Never Let You Down”?
It’s a feel-good anthem. I could envision it as the closing credits song to a coming-of-age teen flick, a forgotten 2000s Lindsay Lohan movie. It was written with the aim of being a wholesome happy bop, and I think I accomplished that.
Favorite book of all-time?
I’d say either Norwegian Wood or Call Me By Your Name.
One movie that will always make you cry?
My threshold for crying at movies is ridiculously low. Off the top of my head, A Star is Born made me bawl when I watched it. And Okja, that movie made me weep uncontrollably. Also, I know the question is movie BUT the book A Little Life made me also breakdown in tears; I am clearly not the most emotionally stable.
What’s one vice you wish you could give up?
My phone. I am glued to it.
For you, how important is queer visibility in music and culture?
Very important. I think queer representation allows queer individuals to see themselves reflected in media and thus provides a source of inspiration. Additionally, I think queer visibility contributes to greater compassion and acceptance from society as a whole which, in an ideal world, would translate to structural changes that support the queer community—especially assisting those in most need of help.
One piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Learn music theory and start guitar lessons at like five years old.
Out of all the songs you’ve released so far, which one is your favorite and why?
I’d say “J+K.” She just is that girl. The lyrics are cute, there’s a rap at the end, what more could one ask for from a song? Lyrically speaking, I think it encapsulates my writing style the best out of all my releases. I do think “Never Let You Down” is the most boppy song I’ve released, though.
You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you and why?
Charli XCX, so she can tell me how she is such a talented writer.
Who are your style icons?
I’m in love with Jordan Firstman.
Favorite song to get your blood moving?
“Wannabe” by Itzy.
The last series you binge-watched?
The Queen’s Gambit was sick.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Biggest pet peeve?
Books or magazines?
Most expensive thing you’ve ever shamelessly splurged on?
I bought a rubber facemask for £15 (a cosmetic facemask, not a pandemic facemask).
One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Word on the street is that you are in the process of writing and recording your debut EP, due out next year. How would you describe the project so far?
Electronic and spicy.